Many people were caught by surprise when Sean Strickland defeated Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 to become the new middleweight champion, but not Alex Pereira.
Having trained with Strickland weeks prior to the event and having fought the ‘Last Stylebender’ four times before, the former middleweight champion had plenty of opportunity to take note of some of the things the Xtreme Couture talent could use to nullify Israel Adesanya’s style when they met in the Octagon. In an interview on the MMA Hour, ‘Poatan’ explained what exactly made him think Strickland had a great chance of scoring the upset.
Alex Pereira feels Strickland was an especially bad matchup
In the Brazilian’s opinion, beyond the performances from both men on the night, Sean Strickland’s style was just a bad match for Israel Adesanya’s way of fighting—a style Pereira feels had become somewhat predictable.
“Since this fight was booked, people were asking me what I think about this fight, and I always said from all the guys out there, the one that had the biggest chance was Sean Strickland,” Pereira said through his translator. “The way that he fights and putting everything together, he’s a good fighter. From their fight, I saw some stuff that Sean was doing that was working for him. I’m not going to get into details so I don’t help Adesanya in a rematch, but I’m not surprised. Sean did a great job and I was expecting that.”
“Adesanya is a tough guy, but styles make fights,” Pereira said. “Their games don’t click. For Strickland, if Adesanya fights the same way, it’s just going to be a continuation of the first fight. Ten rounds. Rounds 5 to 10, the same way.”
Pereira is not going back to middleweight
Speaking of the middleweight title picture, Alex Pereira may be still paying attention to the title fights, but it does not mean he has an interest to come back. Now that the Brazilian is at light heavyweight and doesn’t have to struggle with the weight cut quite as much, he does not see himself going back down.
“No, no. It’s not in my plans,” Pereira said. “My plan was if Israel Adesanya was still the champion there, maybe win the light heavyweight belt and make a fight with him. But now, no. Sean’s my friend, and also, it’s not a weight cut I’m looking to do. I always made weight, never missed weight or anything like that, but it is a hard weight cut, so right now it’s not in my interest.”
Catch Alex Pereira vs. Jiri Prochazka at UFC 295
In his last outing, Alex Pereira (8-2) scored a split decision over former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz, back in July of this year. Before that, the 36-year-old got knocked out by Israel Adesanya in their second UFC meeting, in April of the same year.
Pereira is currently set to take on another former champion in Jiri Prochazka, at UFC 295, at MSG in New York. The two men will meet for the vacant light heavyweight title following an injury to recently crowned champion Jamahal Hill that resulted in the fighter vacatign his belt. The November 11 event is scheduled to be headlined by a heavyweight title fight, between champion Jon Jones and former title-holder Stipe Miocic.
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